Fauja Singh was born in 1911 in India. At 109, he is known as the oldest marathon runner in the world. Singh started running when he was 81 and broke a world record just after turning 89. He is the only person in the world known to have completed a marathon after turning 100.
Singh puts his success down to a healthy diet. He has balanced meals of roti (flatbread), dal (lentils), vegetables, yoghurt, and milk. He is a strict vegetarian and eats no fried food. Others agree that eating well contributes to longevity. Misao Okawa, who lived to 117, said the secret to a long life was good food – she favoured local Japanese delicacies: mackerel sushi, ramen noodles, and beef stew.
Studies support her advice. According to the World Health Organisation, a balanced diet provides the body with the necessary nutrients to grow and repair. This means eating varied foods and plenty of fruit and vegetables while cutting down on sugar, salt, and excessive fats. A good diet protects us from obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
It also makes us happier. Researchers in 2016 found that a diet with a large amount of sugar may lead to symptoms of fatigue. Meanwhile, a healthy diet leaves us feeling satisfied, happy, and energised.
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- Write a food diary for a week to keep track of what you eat. Is it balanced? Is there anything your diet is missing?
- Research a healthy recipe online and try it out at home.
- Design a poster to display at school to promote a balanced diet.